How do we plan for 2021?

Planning future business events in 2021

This year, for the first time in a generation, the world has been united in a global interruption of family life, work life and social connection. Closeness became distance and everything in events changed.

With our thoughts now turning to the New Year (yes, hello Winter!), how do we even begin to plan confidently for 2021 in a climate of such constant change? How do we stay connected, run events and create experiences, when we are all still apart?

In this blog, we outline a possible timeline to consider for planning your future events in 2021.

Virtual Events ‘a must’ for Business Growth and Development

Planning future business events in 2021

Let’s take a moment to follow the science. More than 170 teams of researchers are racing to develop a vaccine, but the ready date is not clear. Understandably, a large proportion of audiences are also reluctant to attend live events prior to its release, whether or not the letter of the law allows it.

What is obvious, though, is that business growth and development cannot remain stagnant in the meantime; virtual alternatives really will be imperative for at least the first half of 2021. The power of a strong virtual kick-off should not be underestimated, providing a platform to push for a continued drive in engagement for the rest of the year. Virtual enables this connection and reach whilst eliminating the risks and challenges of health concerns, ever changing legislation, and dispersed employees and country markets.

A New Audience, Engagement & Brand Purpose

You don’t need to tell us that Zoom fatigue is a thing. With an audience who is more familiar with interacting within the virtual world than ever before, it is our job to steer away from the boring and instead, to push the creative boundaries and design memorable end-user experiences. As mentioned in our recent guide to virtual, setting clear business objectives is key to underpinning the event’s concept development which, in turn, will guide the decision to select the most appropriate platform to facilitate and deliver your content in a purposeful way.

It is no secret that the content itself should be meticulously designed with your audience kept front of mind. Production values, Event Design and Styling need to transcend into the virtual space to achieve real brand engagement and connection with your audience. It’s also worth noting that exciting content doesn’t even necessarily need to be filmed live, the power is all in the edit.

Messaging too can be amplified beyond the virtual event space and into the delegates’ real world by communication pre and post event. There are a whole host of fun and imaginative swag ideas to create a real buzz in advance of your event; we’ve shortlisted some of the options here. Wellness, masterclasses, entertainment and celebrity guests can also be welcome virtual enhancements, creating an event within the event to elevate a natural break or get the party started.

Evolving to Hybrid

By mid-2021 we hope to be preserving the connectivity and reach of virtual while reintroducing an element of live, to bring you… Hybrid Events! This gradual merging of the two will allow the ability to adapt your event to any potential changes required to ensure compliance with local restriction that emerge.

Hybrid events may see a live audience and presenters gathering at an easily accessible location, which can also be streamed into the virtual platform. From the live audience and presenter’s perspective, in ether single or multiple locations, there is both safety and excitement in cautious steps towards a new normal, and comfort in the newly valued ‘staying local.’

Content creation is still key, of course, but now needs to consider both the live and virtual audience, who must simultaneously be immersed in the experience. Recorded and live content can sit side by side, and seamless editing is crucial, requiring a high standard of expertise to deliver the required level to engage all delegates, especially those participating virtually.

We can look outside of our usual circles for innovation and inspiration. For example, those interested in sport and gaming will have seen the NBA, Fortnite and Roblox events which achieved highly successful global engagement with the effective use of avatars and a virtual world.

Reimagining Live

There’s no denying that we are highly anticipating the return to live events (even the early morning alarms!), but of course, we must all be safe, secure, and ready to work within the new normal parameters. As part of this reimagining of live events, we expect to see sustainability play a greater role within the event’s life cycle. Priorities have been shifting over the course of the pandemic and virtual events have drastically reduced the industry’s carbon footprint in many ways, including the reduced delegate and presenter miles.

So, in our drive to get back to live events, it is only right to take advantage of what has been achieved during this time and make a conscious effort to continue with the minimisation of disposables and sourcing locally for food & beverage and entertainment, as just two examples.

But in the meantime, it’s clear to see that virtual events aren’t going anywhere soon. For 26 years Principal have supported clients to successfully deliver and adapt their events through creativity and imagination. Today is no different.

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